Podium ambition for OL
By R. Thomson
Olympique Lyonnais need to defeat Stade Rennais for the first time in five years at the Stade Gerland to be assured a place in next year's Champions League, or risk missing out for the second year in a row.
Olympique Lyonnais - Stade Rennais FC
OL's last Ligue 1 home win over Rennes dates back to a 2-1 victory back in January 2005, when Bryan Bergougnoux (43') and Sidney Govou (44') scored for Lyon and Olivier Monterrubio scored a consolation for Rennes (90'). Rennes have won two and drawn five of their last seven matches in Lyon, including last season's 2-1 win.
Rémi Garde's side are just two points ahead of Saint-Etienne and three points ahead of Lille and Nice. A draw would not be enough for OL if Saint-Etienne were to win against Lille, given Les Verts' superior goal difference.
Last weekend Lyon drew 1-1 away to OGC Nice. Nice opened the scoring from the penalty spot moments into the second half via Dario Cvitanich. OL captain Maxime Gonalons was then sent off in the 73rd minute, but three minutes later, Clément Grenier produced a stunning 30-metre free-kick to rescue a precious point for the visitors and keep them on track for qualification to the Champions League. Gonalons is suspended this weekend.
Lyon's France international full-back Anthony Réveillère returned to the starting line-up last weekend after nearly a month on the outer, but he denied there was a rift with coach Garde.
"Obviously I wasn't happy when he pulled me off at half-time against Toulouse, because I thought I was ready to play. I wasn't," he admitted this week. "I worked very hard over the last month to get back in the side because I wanted to finish the season in the team.
"I've been at this club for ten years and never asked for a favour or expected any special treatment," he continued. "We spoke about a possible contract extension a couple of months back and said we'd chat at the end of the season. The only thing that matters in this industry is fighting for your survival every day and that all I'm focusing on at the moment."
Montanier on way
Fourth at the turn of the year, Rennes' form has fallen away badly since Christmas. They have been the second worst side in Ligue 1 since the turn of the year, picking up just 14 points from three wins, five draws and nine losses. Only bottom club Brest have done worse (8pts) Rennes have won just one of their last 13 Ligue 1 matches.
The club announced this week that current Real Sociedad coach and former Valenciennes boss Philippe Montanier will be taking over from Frédéric Antonetti next season. The 48-year-old Montanier is a former Ligue 1 goalkeeper who retired in 2000 after defending the colours of Caen, Nantes, Toulouse, Gueugnon and Saint-Etienne. After a series of assistant roles, he took over as head coach of Boulogne-sur-Mer in 2004 and ended by gaining promotion to Ligue 1 and being named Ligue 2 Coach of the Year in 2009. He spent the next two years at Boulogne's northern neighbours Valenciennes and promptly took them to tenth in 2010 - their highest Ligue 1 finish since 1980.
This season Montanier has enjoyed great success with Spanish outfit Real Sociedad who he has taken to the verge of qualification for next season's Champions League. He has signed a three-year deal at the Stade de La Route de Lorient.
Lyon: Lopes; Réveillère (cap), B.Koné, Bisevac, Mou.Dabo; G.Fofana, Malbranque (or Mvuemba); Lacazette, Grenier, Gourcuff; B.Gomis (or Lisandro)
Rennes: Costil; Foulquier (or Moreira), A.Diarra (or Apam), Mensah, Mavinga; Danzé (cap), Pajot, Makoun; Pitroipa, Féret; Erding